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Author: Alessandro Seren RossoDate: 02/19/2009
Lada Togliatti beats Ak Bars in Kazan

2009 Continental Hockey League (KHL)

After a hard fought, low scoring match, Lada conquered a shoot out victory against Ak Bars in Kazan's Tatneft arena. In a match full of ex players in both sides, Fredrik Norrena and Vasily Koshechkin (Tampa Bay Lightning) defended the creases being very effective in their guards as they managed to allow only two goals in the whole contest. Koshechkin, 25, is having an excellent season in a defense-first team, with seven shutouts, 93.2% and 1.66 GAA. The two goalkeepers have surely been the game's best players.

Just after a couple of minutes the home team got dangerous with a slap shot by Stepanov, well gloved by Vasily Koshechkin (Tampa Bay Lightning). One minute later it's Lada's turn: Belyaev launches Petrov, who skated past Ilya Nikulin (Atlanta Thrashers) arriving right in front of Norrena, but the Finn goalkeeper saved the consequent backhander. The first powerplay of the game arrives at the sixth as Stepanov hits Anton Krysanov (Phoenix Coyotes) without the puck, but the home defense closed all the spaces to Lada's units. The game will be a lot interrupted by the penalties. The referee whistled another one at the ninth, when Drugov hacked Morozov. The home team finally had some good moments and a very dangerous attempt by Hentunen, but his shot rattled the right post. After a couple of penalties on both side the game regained interest at the sixteenth minute: after a great combination the puck passed from Nikulin, to Mortensson, then to Hentunen, Koshechkin was ready and nicely stopped the Finn's attempt. One minute later Ak Bars were again on the attack with a quick slap shot by Pervyshin, Koshechkin gloved in style. The first period thus ended with a scoreless tie.

The home team started the second period pushing on the gas, but Koshechkin stopped all the attempts. After the usual penalties turnover, midway through the game, Anton Krysanov (Phoenix Coyotes) gets on a quick counterattack, but his shot came saved by Norrena, then it's yet another penalty as Mukhachev cross checks Krysanov himself. Nothing happened in the consequent power play and so, when the teams got back at even strength, the guests scored the 1-0: a great breakout pass by Medvedev put Ak Bars' first line on a quick 3-on-2, Badyukov passed to Zaripov, who further sent the puck right to Morozov. The former Penguin shot and it got in between the goalie's arm and the crossbar. This was Morozov's thirtieth goal of the season. Ak Bars kept on pushing and at the fourteenth minute a powerful slapper by Dmitri Kazionov (Tampa Bay Lightning) forced Koshechkin to a hard save. Thirty seconds later Lada's goalie used greatly his size: Oleg Petrov from behind the crease faked towards the right just to skate to the left, then he tried putting it in, but Koshechkin stretched his long left pad robbing the goal to the forward. That was one of the game's finest saves. Sixteen minute: Zaripov faked a shot serving Morozov, but his shot started too much from the side, easy save by Koshechkin, who's dealing well with the pressure. At this point the game looked like an ethernal powerplay in the home team's favour, but the guests' first line managed to get a great chance in the second period's last minute, but Anton Krysanov (Phoenix Coyotes)'s attempt was too weak and Norrena had easy time with it.

In the third period's ninth minute Alexei Badyukov skated to the box for slashing, and right when the penalty expired the guests found the tie: Viktor Drugov from the left side centered nicely for the rushing Denis Makarov, free to score a nice goal in the almost empty net.
Three minutes later Lada could get the 2-1: youngster Valeri Vasiliev's big slap shot was saved by goalkeeper's left pad, Andrei Mikhnov picked up the rebound and shot, but a great looking butterfly save by Norrena rescued Ak Bars from going down by one. Norrena's big play shacked up his team: Stepanov wrapped around the crease searching for his line mate Denis Kaziono, Koshechkin once again saved. At this point both teams really wanted to win. A quick rush by Krysanov seemed destined in, but the puck only hit the goalpost.
In the last minute of the regulation Lada got a big chance as Stepanov came to the box, but a later penalty against Zakharchuk voided the guest's man advantage and the third stanza thus ended with the teams tied at one.

In the overtime period Ak Bars pushed searching for the tie breaker, but at the third minute Nikulin mistook a pass thus freeing up Konstantin Panov (Nashville Predators), whose slap shot will be blocked by Norrena. Nikulin reedeemed himself a few seconds later as he stole the puck to Sergei Andronov launching Zaripov in the neutral, but Koshechkin once again said no. The rest of the overtime came out chancesless as both teams were plagued by penalties and finished the game playing three-on-three. The penalty shootout seen Lada coming out as the winning team thanks to the unique goal, scored by Alexander Chernikov.

Ak Bars Kazan - Lada Togliatti 1-2 SO (0-0; 1-0; 0-1; 0-0; 0-1)

33'35" 1-0 Alexey Morozov (Alexey Badyukov, Danis Zaripov)
51'14" 1-1 Denis Makarov (Viktor Drugov, Alexander Chernikov)
65'00" 1-2 Alexander Chernikov

Shoot out breakdown
Zaripov save
Petrov wide
Morozov save
Andronov wide
Kazionov save
Chernikov goal

Scout notes

Ak Bars prospects

Andrei Pervyshin (St. Louis Blues)
Grade: B-
Playing in the first defensive pairing with Ilya Nikulin (Atlanta Thrashers) had some good shifts offensively, especially in the game's first half. He finally plays with less shyness and shoots more, now he has to work in order to put in the net the extra shots he attempts.

Alexei Emelin (Montreal Canadiens)
Grade: B
Playing in his usual place in the third line, paired with Panin, has been iced in the last minute of the regulation, just like every other close game. Just like Pervyshin, he's learning to use more his strong shot. Good game, without big errors. He made what his coach expects from him, hard checks and focused defense.

Dmitri Kazionov (Tampa Bay Lightning)
Grade: B-
The versatile winger played a very good game overall, with some good scoring chances playing in the team's third line, more with a checking role. In spite of that, that unit has been very effective in the opponents' third throughout the whole match. Unfortunately he missed his chance in the shoot out and hasn't been too effective in the faceoff dots.

Lada Togliatti prospects

Vasily Koshechkin (Tampa Bay Lightning)
Grade: A-
A spectacular match by the Tampa Bay owned player, who stopped 25 shots and put in a great challenge with his colleague Norrena. I'd say that he won even though maybe Norrena had more eye-capturing intervenes. He has been solid in the whole game and had no chances on Morozov's shot.

Valeri Vasiliev
Grade: B
A talented young defenseman who has really improved a lot. He plays with more confidence now, and is really effective in the own zone and checks hard. Not a big time hitter, he is progressing nicely, developing a quick, strong slap shot that can hurt. Additionally, he logged more than fifteen minutes of play, really not bad for a defenseman of his age.

Sergei Andronov
Grade: C
Average game. He played as second line right winger, but has hurt the good defensive coverage of the opponents. Really talented and overall good with the puck, he tends to overdo with the puck on the stick. To be revised.

Anton Krysanov (Phoenix Coyotes)
Grade: B
Plays in the first line swapping with Andrei Mikhnov over the center and left wing position. Invisible in the first period, has improved as the game got by, playing solidly in the second and third period. He still needs some work in his game, but has showcased once again his technique and playmaking abilities. Good game overall.

Andrei Mikhnov
Grade: B-
Promoted to the team's first line, he clicked well with Krysanov and has got a big chance, when he was robbed of the goal by Norrena's great save. He knows how to use his size at his advantage, but has to work on the fundamentals and to improve his technique level.

Related Player Profiles: . S.Andronov A.Badyukov A.Emelin D.Kazionov V.Koshechkin A.Krysanov A.Mikhnov I.Nikulin K.Panov A.Pervyshin V.Vasiliev D.Zaripov
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